Once there was just a tomato, then heirlooms boomed, and now there are more than 250 varieties. Once cocktail makers only knew one bitters — Angostura — but now the world is brilliantly, broadly bitter, especially if you go and check out Still (37 E. Ortega St.;  883-1080; elevateyourethanol.com), Santa Barbara’s new shop for barware and cocktail accessories. Among his other products, owner Jeremy Bohrer offers tastes of his many bitters, like a savory gumbo one from El Guapo in New Orleans, and then he’ll talk you through possible uses. It’s just one way this new spot at the corner of Anacapa and Ortega streets is a mixologist’s dream.
“The cocktail thing is happening, man,” said Bohrer, a veteran of the wine-and-spirits biz for 15 years, including the last eight at K&L Wine Merchants in Los Angeles. “I love this stuff. I have tons of vintage glassware at home. I’d have every shaker if I could. When we’d get new things in, I’d say, ‘I have to have one of these,’ and my girlfriend [his “VP of Vintage” Sayward Rebhal] would say, ‘No, it’s for the store.’”
The store is stocked with classic glassware Rebhal scored from estate sales as well as tools, shakers, jiggers, ice picks, new glassware, high-quality mixers like Fever-Tree, true grenadines, orgeat, and then shelves of shrubs and bitters. One can almost spontaneously grow a hipster’s beard just looking at this stuff.
Here are some highlighted goodies:
Miracle Mile Bitters: Bohrer recently got a line on these artisanal bitters out of Los Angeles thanks to connections from his K&L days. “They’ve just got so much depth to them,” he said. That depth runs quite the flavor gamut, coming in yuzu, bergamot, Castilian, sour cherry, toasted pecan, and chocolate chili. Creativity is just a few drops away.
Barrel Aged Cocktail Kit: You don’t need a barrel to add oak and mellow out a cocktail when you buy these staves that let you do the trick on a smaller and quicker scale. A fun way to fuller-flavored drinks — you can even age gin.
Dr. Mark’s Muddlers: As part of Bohrer’s attempt to provide locally made items, he sells these muddlers (crucial implements for making mint juleps, among other drinks), hand-carved by “a local actual doctor and amateur woodworker.”
Yukiwa Cocktail Shaker: These are beauties to look at and sit in your hand like they belong there. “Their thick stainless steel doesn’t lock up and doesn’t freeze your hand like cheaper shakers,” he explained. You couldn’t pour more elegant drinks.